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My daughter is almost 6 years old and we live across from a park. Can I tell to her to play and check her only like every 5-10 minutes? I know the answer will be it depends on the kid, and the area, but I would really like to hear from older parents when did they start letting their kid play independently. e.g., at age 7 vs. 10 vs. 12.... definitely at some age it is quite OK.

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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

We let our two eldest play together down the bottom of our garden (which is out of sight, but within a high fence) from the ages of 3 and 5, but didn't let them go up to the park until 8 and 6. It is about 5 minutes walk away, with only one minor road to cross, and is in full view of 8 or 9 houses, but we just felt that at that distance if something did happen (like one of them falling from a high climbing point etc) we couldn't get there in time to do anything useful.

Now our eldest is 11 we do let him take our youngest (5 years old) along there unsupervised, but he takes along one of our mobile phones in case of emergencies.

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+1 for supervision & mobiles. –  deworde Feb 15 '12 at 12:54
    
Thanks @deworde - in general I am against mobiles for kids, but for things like this it just gives us that extra rapid response. And our 11 year old is responsible enough not to abuse the privilege. –  Rory Alsop Feb 15 '12 at 13:25
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The answer is heavily depends. Several questions needs to be answered like:

  • How safe is your area in general?
  • Will she have anyone to play with in the park?
  • How likely are your neighbors to report you to the authorities?
  • Do you see her from your window or do you need to actually walk there?

Once you answer all of these you will have a better idea of whether or not to allow your daughter to play in the park. When I was growing up we played alone starting at 6 but this was usually in groups. Nowadays this in large part isn't the case.

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How likely are your neighbors to report you to the authorities? I don't understand this - what would they report the OP for? –  Treb Feb 15 '12 at 13:42
    
@Treb In the US? Child endangerment for example. –  Karlson Feb 15 '12 at 22:29
    
Really??? I think I am having a cultural shock here... It's amazing how big the differences between our countries can be! –  Treb Feb 17 '12 at 10:42
    
@Treb news.google.com/… Found this which might interest you about mother being jailed –  Karlson Feb 17 '12 at 23:15
    
@Treb Yes ... the nanny state is encouraging people to think that the government needs to get involved in everything. –  tomjedrz Feb 19 '12 at 4:37
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In Germany, it is quite common that kids go to elementary school on their own, starting at the age of 6 or 7. Of course, this involves prior training on the way to preschool, and not too long and difficult ways. But regarding the question if a 6-year-old can be left alone directly opposite the house for 10min, I think the comparison is clear. Regarding the authorities: A German court decided recently, that the parents of a 6-year-old did not violate their obligatory supervision when he damaged a car with his bike while he was unattended, because he had been trained for 2 years and was generally driving safe. If somebody reported parents of kids that were playing peacefully in a park next to their houses, he would be laughed at.

I don't want to brag about my country, your country, but I see developments (here and according to media reports even more the USA, Karlson also implied that) that I don't think should be welcome.

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If the area is safe, I see no problem per se. I played by myself, for hours, at 6 (or even 5, I'm not entirely sure) years old in an area with block houses and no cars. Of course bad things can happen, but they can happen when you are 18 as well.

So in the end it depends on the area and on your kid. Does the kid know to stay away from streets, trains, brooks, etc? Are there other people around, generally? Is the area safe? Are your kid generally reckless? Is the playground toys dangerous? What does your neighbors do and think (they may be wrong, but you probably don't want to alienate them), etc, etc.

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